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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Monday, May 22, 2006  

New in 7: Highlighting Enhancements

The Highlighting capabilities of Accordance have been greatly enhanced in version 7. Until now, highlighting has only been possible with Bible texts. Non-biblical texts such as Josephus or Qumran were not supported. Neither were tools, so if you wanted to highlight important passages in a commentary or dictionary article, you were out of luck. The good news is that version 7 removes these limitations, so that it is now possible to highlight non-Biblical texts and tools.

But wait, there's more!

Previously, you were limited to one set of highlights, but version 7 now lets you create multiple highlight files. These files are stored in a Highlights folder within a new Accordance Files folder located inside each user's Documents folder. Whatever files you have in that folder become available through a new pop-up menu on the Highlight palette:

In addition to letting you set up different sets of highlights for different purposes, this change also makes it much easier for users to share their highlight files. Let's say a professor has gone through and highlighted every parallel word in every parallel passage of the Gospels. He can now share his Highlight file with his students, who can then view those highlights in their own copies of Accordance.

But that's not all!

By far the coolest new feature of the highlighting is the ability to highlight the results of a search.

Let's say I want to do an inductive Bible study, and I have a set of highlights set up for that purpose:

Inductive studies often begin by highlighting the characters in a narrative, the places mentioned in the narrative, etc. But I'm lazy, so I want to automate this process as much as possible. And since the grammatically tagged Greek and Hebrew texts offer me the greatest variety of information to search, I'm going to use the tagged Greek New Testament rather than an English Bible. (Besides, doesn't it just sound cool to say you're doing an inductive study in Greek?) ;-)

I'll begin by looking for all Proper Nouns in the book of Acts. To do this, I'll control click on the More Options section of the Search window and choose Acts from the "Set Range To" submenu of the new contextual menu. Then I'll control-click on the argument entry box and choose "Noun" from the "Enter Tag" submenu of the contextual menu. In the dialog box, I'll choose "properName" from the Class pop-up menu and click OK to close the dialog box. When I click OK to perform the search, I'll find every proper name in the book of Acts.

Now, if I want to highlight all those words with a particular highlight style, all I need to do is shift-click the style I want on the Highlight palette. When I shift-click on the People style, this is what I get:

Now, since the tagged Greek New Testament does not distinguish people from places, I've highlighted some Places as People. But I can isolate many of the places found by searching for Proper Names following certain prepositions.

Now, I can clear the People style from all of these hits by holding down the shift key and clicking Clear. I can then shift-click the Places style to highlight all of these Proper Names as places.

Of course, because I included prepositions in this search, the prepositions also get highlighted with the Places style. But this is easily fixed. I'll just search for those prepositions by themselves, and shift-click the Clear button to remove the Places style.

Now, if I look at Acts 1, I've got People and Places clearly distinguished, and I've done it much more quickly than if I'd gone through and selected each word to highlight it. How cool is that?

The first bit is very cool but the last bit strikes me as a little convoluted, David. Three searches to get the right text highlighted? That's a bit much, no? Now, if this feature were anticipating some enhancements to the morphological databases, say tags differentiating between place names and personal names, or more radically syntactical databases... well, that would be very, very cool!


I deliberately chose to make a distinction which went beyond the tagging in order to show the flexibility with which you can add and remove styles from hits.

Naturally it would be cooler if the tagging made a distinction between people and places (or additional distinctions), but even then it would require two searches rather than three.

Besides, three searches takes a lot less time than highlighting 1081 hits by hand! :-)

Besides, three searches takes a lot less time than highlighting 1081 hits by hand! :-)

Fair Enough!

"it is now possible to highlight non-Biblical texts and tools"

Wow! These new highlighting capabilities are again reason enough to upgrade! This adds so much value to every module. Thank you!

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